Items in AFP with MESH term: Severity of Illness Index

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Delirium - Article

ABSTRACT: Delirium is characterized by an acute change in cognition and a disturbance of consciousness, usually resulting from an underlying medical condition or from medication or drug withdrawal. Delirium affects 10 to 30 percent of hospitalized patients with medical illness; more than 50 percent of persons in certain high-risk populations are affected. The associated morbidity and mortality make diagnosis of this condition extremely important. Patients with delirium can present with agitation, somnolence, withdrawal, and psychosis. This variation in presentation can lead to diagnostic confusion and, in some cases, incorrect attribution of symptoms to a primary psychiatric disorder. To make the distinction, it is important to obtain the history of the onset and course of the condition from family members or caregivers. Primary care physicians must be able to recognize delirium so that the underlying etiology can be ascertained and addressed. The management of delirium involves identifying and correcting the underlying problem, and symptomatically managing any behavioral or psychiatric symptoms. Low doses of antipsychotic drugs can help to control agitation. The use of benzodiazepines should be avoided except in cases of alcohol or sedative-hypnotic withdrawal. Environmental interventions, including frequent reorientation of patients by nursing staff and education of patients and families, should be employed in all cases.


Diagnosing the Patient with Abdominal Pain and Altered Bowel Habits: Is it Irritable Bowel Syndrome? - Article

ABSTRACT: Diagnosing a patient who presents with abdominal pain and altered bowel habits can be challenging. Although serious organic illnesses can cause these symptoms, irritable bowel syndrome is commonly responsible. It can be difficult to properly evaluate these patients without overusing diagnostic tests and consultation. A practical approach for diagnosing irritable bowel syndrome is suggested, using the Rome II criteria and the presence of alarm symptoms such as weight loss, gastrointestinal bleeding, anemia, fever, or frequent nocturnal symptoms as starting points. If there are no alarm symptoms and the Rome II criteria are not met, it is acceptable to reevaluate the patient at a later date. If there are no alarm symptoms and the Rome II criteria are met, the patient should be categorized on the basis of age: patients 50 years or younger can be evaluated on the basis of predominant symptoms--constipation, diarrhea, or abdominal pain. Patients older than 50 years should be fully evaluated and considered for gastroenterology referral. If alarm symptoms are present, a full evaluation should be performed (and gastroenterology referral considered), regardless of the patient's age.


Asthma Update: Part I. Diagnosis, Monitoring, and Prevention of Disease Progression - Article

ABSTRACT: Despite increased scientific knowledge about asthma and improved therapeutic options, the disease continues to cause significant morbidity and mortality. The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program Expert Panel has updated its clinical guidelines on asthma medications, prevention of disease progression, and patient self-management. Diagnostic criteria have not changed, and identification of the disease relies on the physician's analysis of the patient's symptoms, family history, and spirometric measurements of lung function. Classification of asthma severity also has not changed, but many obstacles remain, including the variability of asthma and the classification system's inability to account for physical activity levels, which may result in significant underestimation of the severity of asthma. The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program recommends the use of written action plans with or without monitoring of peak expiratory flow, although evidence supporting these management techniques is inconclusive. Patients with asthma may benefit from earlier use of inhaled corticosteroids, which have been proven safe in the usual dosages. However, further studies are needed to determine whether inhaled corticosteroids can prevent the progression of asthma.


Diagnosis and Treatment of Hypothermia - Article

ABSTRACT: Although hypothermia is most common in patients who are exposed to a cold environment, it can develop secondary to toxin exposure, metabolic derangements, infections, and dysfunction of the central nervous and endocrine systems. The clinical presentation of hypothermia includes a spectrum of symptoms and is grouped into the following three categories: mild, moderate, and severe. Management depends on the degree of hypothermia present. Treatment modalities range from noninvasive, passive external warming techniques (e.g., removal of cold, wet clothing; movement to a warm environment) to active external rewarming (e.g., insulation with warm blankets) to active core rewarming (e.g., warmed intravenous fluid infusions, heated humidified oxygen, body cavity lavage, and extracorporeal blood warming). Mild to moderate hypothermia is treated easily with supportive care in most clinical settings and has good patient outcomes. The treatment of severe hypothermia is more complex, and outcomes depend heavily on clinical resources. Prevention and recognition of atypical presentations are essential to reducing the rates of morbidity and mortality associated with this condition.


Extrapulmonary Tuberculosis: An Overview - Article

ABSTRACT: In the 1980s, after a steady decline during preceding decades, there was a resurgence in the rate of tuberculosis in the United States that coincided with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome epidemic. Disease patterns since have changed, with a higher incidence of disseminated and extrapulmonary disease now found. Extrapulmonary sites of infection commonly include lymph nodes, pleura, and osteoarticular areas, although any organ can be involved. The diagnosis of extrapulmonary tuberculosis can be elusive, necessitating a high index of suspicion. Physicians should obtain a thorough history focusing on risk behaviors for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and tuberculosis. Antituberculous therapy can minimize morbidity and mortality but may need to be initiated empirically. A negative smear for acid-fast bacillus, a lack of granulomas on histopathology, and failure to culture Mycobacterium tuberculosis do not exclude the diagnosis. Novel diagnostic modalities such as adenosine deaminase levels and polymerase chain reaction can be useful in certain forms of extrapulmonary tuberculosis. In general, the same regimens are used to treat pulmonary and extrapulmonary tuberculosis, and responses to antituberculous therapy are similar in patients with HIV infection and in those without. Treatment duration may need to be extended for central nervous system and skeletal tuberculosis, depending on drug resistance, and in patients who have a delayed or incomplete response. Adjunctive corticosteroids may be beneficial in patients with tuberculous meningitis, tuberculous pericarditis, or miliary tuberculosis with refractory hypoxemia.


Management of Acute Renal Failure - Article

ABSTRACT: Acute renal failure is present in 1 to 5 percent of patients at hospital admission and affects up to 20 percent of patients in intensive care units. The condition has prerenal, intrarenal, and postrenal causes, with prerenal conditions accounting for 60 to 70 percent of cases. The cause of acute renal failure usually can be identified through an appropriate history, a physical examination, and selected laboratory tests. The initial laboratory evaluation should include urinalysis, a determination of the fractional excretion of sodium, a blood urea nitrogen to creatinine ratio, and a basic metabolic panel. Management includes correction of fluid and electrolyte levels; avoidance of nephrotoxins; and kidney replacement therapy, when appropriate. Several recent studies support the use of acetylcysteine for the prevention of acute renal failure in patients undergoing various procedures. The relative risk of serum creatinine elevation was 0.11 in patients undergoing radiocontrast-media procedures (absolute risk reduction: 19 percent) and 0.33 in patients undergoing coronary angiography (absolute risk reduction: 8 percent). In patients pretreated with sodium bicarbonate before radiocontrast-media procedures, the relative risk of serum creatinine elevation was 0.13 and the absolute risk reduction was 11.9 percent. Dopamine and diuretics have been shown to be ineffective in ameliorating the course of acute renal failure.


Detection and Evaluation of Chronic Kidney Disease - Article

ABSTRACT: Chronic kidney disease affects approximately 19 million adult Americans, and its incidence is increasing rapidly. Diabetes and hypertension are the underlying causes in most cases of chronic kidney disease. Evidence suggests that progression to kidney failure can be delayed or prevented by controlling blood sugar levels and blood pressure and by treating proteinuria. Unfortunately, chronic kidney disease often is overlooked in its earliest, most treatable stages. Guidelines from the National Kidney Foundation's Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative (KDOQI) recommend estimating glomerular filtration rate and screening for albuminuria in patients with risk factors for chronic kidney disease, including diabetes, hypertension, systemic illnesses, age greater than 60 years, and family history of chronic kidney disease. The glomerular filtration rate, calculated by using a prediction equation, detects chronic kidney disease more accurately than does the serum creatinine level alone; the glomerular filtration rate also is used for disease staging. In most clinical situations, analysis of random urine samples to determine the albumin-creatinine or protein-creatinine ratio has replaced analysis of timed urine collections. When chronic kidney disease is detected, an attempt should be made to identify and treat the specific underlying condition(s). The KDOQI guidelines define major treatment goals for all patients with chronic kidney disease. These goals include slowing disease progression, detecting and treating complications, and managing cardiovascular risk factors. Primary care physicians have an important role in detecting chronic kidney disease early, in instituting measures to slow disease progression, and in providing timely referral to a nephrologist.


The Patient with Excessive Worry - Article

ABSTRACT: Worry is a normal response to uncertainty. Education, empathetic support, reassurance, and passage of time usually ameliorate ordinary worries. However, these common-sense strategies for dealing with transient worries often prove ineffective for patients with excessive worry, many of whom meet the criteria for disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed. Evidence-based treatments for such disorders can assist family physicians in management of persistent worry as a self-perpetuating habit across diagnostic categories. Antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy are effective treatments for various disorders characterized by excessive worry. Cognitive behavioral strategies that may be adapted to primary care contacts include education about the worry process, repeated challenge of cognitive distortions and beliefs that underpin worry, behavioral exposure assignments (e.g., scheduled worry periods, worry journals), and learning mindfulness meditation.


Diagnosing Rhinitis: Allergic vs. Nonallergic - Article

ABSTRACT: Allergic rhinitis, the most common type of rhinitis, generally can be differentiated from the numerous types of nonallergic rhinitis through a thorough history and physical examination. Allergic rhinitis may be seasonal, perennial, or occupational. The most common cause of nonallergic rhinitis is acute viral infection. Other types of nonallergic rhinitis include vasomotor, hormonal, drug-induced, structural, and occupational (irritant) rhinitis, as well as rhinitis medicamentosa and nonallergic rhinitis with eosinophilia syndrome. Since 1998, three large expert panels have made recommendations for the diagnosis of allergic and nonallergic rhinitis. Allergy testing (e.g., percutaneous skin testing, radioallergosorbent testing) is not necessary in all patients but may be useful in ambiguous or complicated cases.


Acute Pancreatitis: Diagnosis, Prognosis, and Treatment - Article

ABSTRACT: Mild acute pancreatitis has a low mortality rate, but patients with severe acute pancreatitis are more likely to develop complications and have a much higher death rate. Although serum amylase and lipase levels remain the most widely used diagnostic assays for acute pancreatitis, other biomarkers and inflammatory mediators such as trypsinogens are being investigated for clinical use. Ranson's criteria, the Imrie scoring system, the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE II) scale, and the Computed Tomography Severity Index are systems for classifying severity of this disease; the Atlanta classification is widely used to compare these systems and standardize clinical trials. New developments in imaging modalities such as endoscopic ultrasonography and magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography increase the options available to physicians for determining the cause of pancreatitis and assessing for complications. Enteral nutrition is preferred to parental nutrition for improving patient outcomes. Clinical trials are ongoing to evaluate the role, selection, and timing of antibiotics in patients with infected necrosis.


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